Study: Marijuana serving as a replacement for alcohol, rather than a complement
Here's some data to back up a premise we've suspected has been true for a while: A new study says that in states where medical cannabis is legal, alcohol sales have gone down as much as 13%. That suggests that rather than complementing alcohol sales, consumers are instead replacing alcohol consumption with cannabis use. Consumers aren't smoking weed in addition to drinking booze -- they're using it instead of booze.
That is a big deal, because as the writers of the study say, "the relationship between these substances is an important public health issue." There definitely needs to be more research done on cannabis, but it seems to be much healthier in general (in terms of calories and how it affects the body) than alcohol, and as the program director at a medical marijuana licensing clinic says about this study, "it’s pretty easy for people to swap one out for the other because one makes them feel well and the other one is going to really make them hurt when they wake up the next day." Alcohol is currently responsible for 88,000 deaths a year in the US, while cannabis has 0 reported overdose deaths. If cannabis really can serve as a substitute for alcohol, public health in general would be much better off for it.
Unfortunately, there's a whole global industry that relies on alcohol sales, and while the local beer manager in the article doesn't see any competition between the two options, it's naive to think that the alcohol industry isn't already paying attention to marijuana and how it affects their business. And if you want to get really conspiratorial, why do you think the US hasn't legalized marijuana yet, especially when more and more people all the time support legalization? Could it be that the alcohol industry is trying to put obstacles in the way for legalization when studies like this say sales have already dropped 13 percent in states that have made medical marijuana legal?
Just saying. It certainly seems like we're headed for full legalization soon, but if not -- if some concern arises that shuts down momentum in that direction -- then it'll be interesting to see how the alcohol industry is related to that potential concern. That, or the alcohol industry might just buy out cannabis and carry on.
Legal cannabis may change a whole lot of things about the United States, and while some will welcome that change, others might not be so excited about it. At any rate, if cannabis is able to fill a need that people have, and do so in a much healthier way, we're all in favor for sure.